'We can be doctors & lawyers too!' - says Law Graduate Denisa Caldera
Denisa Caldara is a Masters graduate from Portsmouth. The aspiring lawyer shares her experiences with us in the hope to empower young Gypsies and Travellers to pursue their dreams.
I came to the UK from Slovakia when I was 14 years old. I didn't speak much English although I did study some at my previous school.......writes Denisa Caldara.
My dad was working in the UK and as a family, we missed him so much that we decided to move here. I was very unhappy because I did well at my school in Slovakia. it was called 'Lucna In Vranov and Toplov' and I was always well-prepared and got the best grades.
My parents never checked if I did my homework or what grades I was receiving or pushed me to have a career. It was just a strong motivation I had within me as a child.
I remember at school in Slovakia we had to write a summary of what you want to do and who you would like to marry in the future. I was 11 and my teacher asked me, "Denisa come along and present your presentation".
I was a noticeably confident child. I never felt nervous in any way and I remember saying when I grow up I want to become a lawyer who will help lots of people. I guess it was my passion since childhood. I also said I want to adopt kids from Africa and marry someone who looks like ‘Barack Obama!' Everyone in my class started laughing and this memory has always put a smile on my face.
Before the move to the UK, we hadn't been living long in Slovakia but lived in Belgium. The move to the UK was super hard for me. I had to adjust to a new environment, new language and new friends.
When I arrived in 2009, I was furious thinking all my career aspirations would be over. Note that I was 14 and I cared so much about my education, status and career.
However, I never imagined it would be as hard as it was for me in school. I didn't realise I had to take GCSE's in the final year at school. I struggled and didn't receive great marks, but I carried on and kept being a diligent student. Over time I went to college and did my A-levels and successfully applied to the University of Portsmouth graduating with a 2:1 and LLM in Law with merit.
It has been a long journey for me. It took persistence and discipline to accomplish my dreams. Even now I still have a long way to go with my legal career. I don't want to just be a qualified lawyer but I want to make changes in people’s lives with my own experience. I have been volunteering in Governmental organizations to gain legal experience and it has helped me see the real-life of lawyers.
I am a simple Gypsy girl from Slovakia that didn't have a family that encouraged me to gain a higher education but I have motivated myself every day so I can prove to others that we can also be doctors, lawyers, engineers, or journalists!
It always starts with you and sometimes you might not have a great day but always think, this is your future and will affect your life. I always saw people being miserable when they had jobs they did not like. This also pushed me to not give up and be persistent with my ambitions in life.
I feel it is important to address in Gypsy society that we must encourage each other to do better. Sadly, some people from Gypsy society do well and have achieved success but don't share their experience with others. We need to work on this and I believe there is happiness in giving and helping others to achieve their dreams makes me even happier.
I took a step on my own by helping some young Gypsy girls apply for university, and encourage them to go on to higher education. Of course, it is everyone’s individual decision but I believe with support young people don't have to feel alone.
I am trying to produce a Gypsy helpline website which will enable everyone to ask questions with enquiries regarding university and job prospects. I am doing this because I want to see a change in Roma community life, especially with women.
Many of the Roma community think that we just get married and have families. There is nothing wrong with it however, we forget to focus on our own goals. When I asked some young people what their goal is. They don't have an answer and it's because they have been raised with thinking that life only entails marriage and children.
We have to take action and empower our girls to fight for their passion. I really hope that my example and many others will encourage young Roma to go on to higher education despite all the challenges they may have to tackle.
Another aspect I am considering getting involved in is the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. I want equal opportunities for the Roma community but it seems that many organisations have created charities for the Roma community, but do not provide sufficient support.
I ask myself the question sometimes. if someone like me as a Romani professional wants to achieve something great in life is there anybody out there who will open a door for me to help achieve my dreams?
I just want to highlight something beautiful. Milada was always my example. I thought she was a very brave and strong woman. Milada Horakova Politician & Lawyer said: "Life is hard, it does not pamper anybody, and for every time it strokes you it gives you ten blows. Do not let it defeat you. Decide to fight. Have courage and clear goals and you will win over life. Go through the world with open eyes and listen not only to your own pains and interest but also to the pains, interests and longing of others."
That is why I decided to fight and reach the highest point of my career!